San Francisco police chief resigns following officer-involved shooting

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr. © Stephen Lam
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee cited Thursday’s police shooting death of a 27-year-old black woman and other similar shootings against people of color as the reason he asked Police Chief Greg Suhr to resign. Replacing him will be Toney Chaplin, a deputy chief.

Suhr, 57, turned in his resignation just hours following the killing of a 27-year-old black woman by a San Francisco sergeant. Neither the officer nor the victim’s names have been released.

The resignation did not come wholly voluntarily.

“I have previously expressed confidence in Chief Suhr because I know he agrees with and understands the need for reform,” Mayor Lee told reporters on Thursday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “He has demonstrated his commitment to instilling these reforms into the whole department, from the command staff to the cadets.

“But following this morning’s officer-involved shooting and my meeting with Chief Suhr this afternoon,” Lee continued, “I have arrived at a different conclusion to the question of how best to move forward.”

Lee said Suhr, who had 30 years of experience on the force, brought “meaningful” progress, “but not fast enough.”

Thursday’s shooting took place in The Bayview, a southeastern San Francisco neighborhood where the police shooting of Mario Woods, a black 26-year-old stabbing suspect, took place on December 2. Thursday marked the third such mortal shooting by San Francisco police in the last six months, according to the Chronicle.

The victim was a woman suspected of stealing a car. When two officers approached her sitting in the vehicle, she took off, crashing into another vehicle a short distance away, after which a sergeant shot and killed her for not following instructions, the mayor told reporters. She is not reported to have been armed, and police said she was not driving the car towards the sergeant.

Another recent scandal contributing to the mayor’s decision to sack Suhr was the revelation of racist and homophobic text messages sent among San Francisco officers.

Lee appointed Toney Chaplin as San Francisco’s acting police chief, promoting him from his current position as deputy chief. The 47-year-old with 26 years of policing experience had previously worked on a gang unit and formed another unit to advance transparency within the San Francisco Police Department.

Chaplin is black, while Suhr, the resigning chief, is white.